Panerai began making watches in Florence, Italy back in 1860, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that the firm produced its first wristwatch. By then its roots in Florence were as deep as those in Switzerland, where Panerai watches were produced.
The breakthrough for the company was an order for diving watches from the Italian Navy, for whom Panerai had been creating instruments of various types since the turn of the century. With a war coming on, the navy was keen to outfit its elite corps of frogmen with wristwatches.
Featuring a Rolex movement, the limited-edition Panerai Radiomir (only 300 were made) was designed for use by commandos and torpedo riders—frogmen who rode a slow-moving torpedo toward a target before attaching a timed mine to the underside of a ship and then riding away. The watches had a cushion-shaped case, a screw-down crown to keep water out of the movement, and oiled-leather straps that were long enough to be worn on the outside of a diving suit. Given their limited supply and the tough conditions they were subjected to, these watches are very highly prized by collectors today.
The watch took its name, Radiomir, from the luminous material that Panerai first developed in 1910. Made of zinc sulphide and radium bromide, Radiomir allowed the numbers and hands on a watch to be read in dark conditions. It was replaced in 1949 by Luminor, which glows thanks to the presence of tritium, a less-dangerous compound than radium bromide.
Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, Panerai continued to produce wristwatches for the Italian Navy in regular and destro (left-handed) versions. Some watches from this period were known as Trittico watches, thanks to their trio of features, which included a depth gauge.
Panerai also made Kampfschwimmer watches, some with so-called California dials (numbers on the bottom, Roman numerals on the top), for Germany’s only postwar commando unit. And in 1956, Panerai created a large-face Radiomir watch for the Egyptian Navy.
Panerai might have remained a military diving watch in the minds of the public had it not been for Sylvester Stallone, who, in 1995, purchased a Luminor while on location in Italy. Sales of the watches jumped after its debut in Stallone’s “Daylight,” and Sly even had some watches—dubbed Slytech—made with his signature engraved on the back. These he gave as gifts to friends, including fellow action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.
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2015 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta - Overall reportSail World, April 21st
The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, sponsored by Panerai, celebrated the winners at the Prize Giving Ceremony on the lawn of the Copper and Lumber Store, Nelson's Dockyard. The huge crowd was welcomed by Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta Chairman, ...Read more
Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Oro RossoWatchtime.com, April 21st
Panerai PAM570 Thumb 150 Paneristi, take note: available in a limited set of 300 pieces, the Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso is as elegant as it is simple. In true Panerai style, its name is a mouthful, but it tells you everything you need...Read more
Timeless TimepiecesVenture Magazine, April 20th
By creating a $17,000 edition of its new tech-laden timepiece, Apple is making an audacious grab at the multimillion dollar luxury watch market. But Officine Panerai's managing director for the Middle East, Turkey, and India, is confident established...Read more
Panerai and Haute Living Captain the Kickoff of the 2015 Sailing Heals SeasonHaute Living, April 9th
Nonprofit organization, Sailing Heals, docked at Officine Panerai's flagship Bal Harbour boutique yesterday evening to kick off the luxury watchmaker's annual sponsorship of the event's 2015 sailing season. The signature experience aims to leverage the ...Read more
Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso - 47mmWorld Tempus (press release), April 8th
The cushion case of the new Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso, 47 mm in diameter, is made entirely of 5nPt red gold, an alloy with a higher percentage of copper than usual and a small amount of platinum which helps to minimise the oxidation of the ...Read more
Officine Panerai to Celebrate Sailing Heals with Bal Harbour SoireeHaute Living, April 6th
Rafael Alvarez, President of Panerai North America will be in attendance to host a nautical-inspired evening in support of Sailing Heals 2015 season on Tuesday, April 7. The kick-off is becoming something of an annual tradition since the charity's...Read more
First Look: Panerai (PAM 570) Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Oro RossoPerpetuelle.com (blog), April 2nd
Today Panerai officially pulled the covers off its new Radiomir 1940 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso (PAM00570). This is a Panerai “Special Edition” which means that production is limited — 300 pieces, in this instance. The watch is as attractive from the back...Read more
Officine Panerai makes its debut in BahrainTrade Arabia, April 1st
Officine Panerai, a leading designer, manufacturer and retailer of watches, continues to expand its distribution network with the opening of its first boutique in Bahrain, in collaboration with Asia Jewellers. The new boutique opened its doors in Moda...Read more